How Does Targeted Cancer Therapy Work? Oncologist Stephen Lemon MD describes targeted therapy for cancer treatment and how it compares to standard chemotherapy. Visit to learn more about his discussion on targeted therapy. Transcript of Dr. Stephen Lemon talk on targeted cancer therapy: "Targeted cancer therapy is a new and very promising approach to the treatment of cancer. It is designing new treatments, new drugs, that specifically target the cancer cell, so they avoid regular cells and go directly to the cancer cell and the cause that cancer cell to die. It includes drugs such as Herceptin, Avastin, and Erbitux. These can be given by themselves, or in combination with regular chemotherapy. He said that this drug would go direct to the cancer in the colon, and I said, “well, does it have a GPS or something to know where to go or something, it mustn't dilly-dally!” He explained it as a smart bomb, which was a great way of explaining it, he said it's gonna go in there and it's gonna kill every HER2/neu positive protein that you've got. The Avastin's looking for those cells that hide, you know, they're lurking there, that's what the Avastin does, it's a follow-up. It's a clean-up, so to speak. Targeted therapies are specific to individual cancers, so different targeted therapies are used in different cancer treatments. Dr. Lemon put me on Herceptin because it's a blocker, it'll keep the kind of cancer that I had from coming back is the way it was explained to me. So I would come in once a week for exactly a year and get the injections. It didn't really phase me at all. Common side effects in regular chemotherapy, such as hair loss, nausea, vomiting, are the result of cancer treatment going to normal cells, such as hair follicles and cells of the intestinal tract. But targeted therapy, because it zeroes in on specific cancer cells, avoids those side effects, so someone does not lose their hair or have a lot of nausea or vomiting. Well, I don't know what drugs he had me on, but he had me on it in June, and that was my lowest ebb, was in June. I just wasn't doing well, I had diarrhea, that was the worst thing to have to handle because I was getting to the point where I was almost housebound. So he switched me over to Erbitux, and that has been just night and day. The diarrhea has stopped, but a side effect was breaking out of the face, and I said well that I could handle, with a little liquid makeup I'm fine. But to be able to go and shop and not have my other problem, it's a relief. Now sometimes when the targeted therapy is combined with traditional chemotherapy, a patient will still have those side effects. From the Herceptin itself I didn't have any side effects. I did lose my hair, it wasn't from the Herceptin, it was from the chemo drugs, my chemo cocktail I call it. Evidently this drug is working, I'm feeling much better, I'm feeling better than I've felt in a year. If you're not going through treatment you have no reason to know what HER2/neu positive is, and what Herceptin is, and how new and amazing Herceptin is, you just have no idea."